The Illegal

The Illegal  by Lawrence Hill.

This is the second book I’ve completed for the Canadian Book Challenge!!

Not sure when/why I had this book on my To Be Read list, but there it was and it counts for this Challenge because the author, Lawrence Hill, is Canadian.

This is the story of Keita Ali, a marathon runner from fictional Zantoroland, whose father is killed because of his political views. Keita flees from Zantoroland to Freedom State and lives there as an “illegal,” running in races to win money to survive and hiding from the authorities as well. He makes some friends along the way who help him out.

I found this book to be an okay read. It kept me interested but not so much that I couldn’t put it down. I was mildly curious as to what would happen. The ending tied up most of the loose ends which I always like 😉

The character Keita shows us what it means to be an undocumented person living in this way, in a strange country trying to survive without being caught and deported. Some of the fear that comes with that, the uncertainty (in Keita’s case) of whom he can trust. All felt very real. But thankfully there are good people in the world who are willing to stand up for those who are unable to stand up for themselves for whatever reason.

*My progress for this Challenge is 2/13!!!!!



The Right to Be Cold

The Right to Be Cold: One Woman’s Story of Protecting her Culture, the Arctic and the Whole Planet  by Sheila Watt-Cloutier.

This is the first book that I’ve completed for the Canadian Book Challenge!!

This is the story of Watt-Cloutier’s life and work in the Arctic, as she grew up an Inuk in Nunavik. (I’ll stop right here and admit that I didn’t know where Nunavik was, so I looked it up and found out that it’s the northern part of Quebec. Now I know!). This book provides an in-depth look at her work over the last twenty-five years. In the book she talks about her feelings of growing up in a safe and loving environment, of losing some of her culture and language as a child when she went away to school, of returning to her home and family, and of her tireless work as an adult to raise national and international awareness for the changes in the climate that affect the Inuit so greatly. The ice is melting which changes how they can do the things they’ve done for generations…things they need to do in order to survive! Here’s a quote from the book

…ice is something that people depend on not just for survival but to thrive. Indeed, the idea of “the right to be cold” is less relatable than “the right to water” for many people…Because as hard as it is for many people to understand, for us Inuit, ice matters. Ice is life.” (page 258)

The right to be cold, for the Inuit, is the right to have their needs met so they can continue to practice their way of life and culture, their connection to nature and all living creatures.

I found this book to be interesting, and the first non-fiction book I’ve read about Arctic climate change. As someone who has never been to the Arctic, I find it interesting to discover how dependent the Inuit are on ice, that even the slightest  change in the thickness of the ice can change where they are able to travel or not travel to hunt/fish the food that they need to survive. What an eye-opening book for me! I’d recommend it to anyone who is looking to learn a little more about another section of our vast country.

*My progress for this Challenge is 1/13!!!!!!

A new Reading Challenge

Having finished my 2017 Reading Challenge already for this year, I had decided to take a break from doing a challenge and just read whatever I came across, and to tackle some of the titles that are on my To Be Read list!

However, sometimes with the greatest intentions we still need to be flexible and take what comes across our path. I stumbled upon another challenge that sounded like a really great idea! It’s called The Canadian Book Challenge and basically you try to read 13 or more Canadian books, 13 because that’s the number of territories and provinces in Canada. The Challenge starts on July 1st/Canada Day, and ends the next Canada Day. Here’s the info about The Canadian Book Challenge if you’re interested in checking out the Challenge or officially joining; you’ll find out how to join and FAQs.

The book I’m currently reading is a Canadian book so I’ve already officially started! It’s The Right to Be Cold  by Shelia Watt-Cloutier. Stay tuned as I will eventually review this book as part of the Challenge. I was looking at my To Be Read list and there were actually seven or eight titles on my list that could be used for this Challenge; so, that’s a great place for me to start.

At this point, I’m thinking I’ll try to read an author/book from each territory/province…at least I’ll start out with that idea and see where it takes me. Does anyone want to join in? Click HERE to check it out! Also, if you have any recommendations for Canadian authors or books that I should consider, please send those authors/titles my way!!

Summer Reading

So, I know we’re almost halfway through the summer so this post feels as if it’s a little later than usual. However, here’s some of what I have read or will be reading this summer (with a few missing from the pics). Let me know if you’ve read any of these and what you thought of them.

William Shakespeare’s The Empire Striketh Back  by Ian Doescher (to read)

The Tutor  by Andrea Chapin (have read)

Station Eleven  by Emily St. John Mandel (have read)

Seven Stones to Stand or Fall  by Diana Gabaldon (to read)

The Right to be Cold  by Sheila Watt-Cloutier (to read)

Secrets of a Charmed Life  by Susan Meissner (to read)

Green Darkness  by Anya Seton (to read)

The Lost Book of the Grail  by Charlie Lovett (to read)

The Illegal  by Lawrence Hill (to read)


Reading Challenge 2017: To Sum Up…

Another Reading Challenge completed and it was a really great one! Lots of interesting reads. This Challenge contained forty books in its regular section, and then an additional “Advanced” section with another twelve books, for those who wanted to read more (pick me!!!). A few of the more interesting categories were, “A steampunk novel” (Changeless  by Gail Carriger), “A book with an unreliable narrator” (The Bookseller  by Cynthia Swanson), “A book set in a hotel” (Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet  by Jamie Ford),  and “A book that’s more than 800 pages” (The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett) just to name a few.

I always enjoy doing these Reading Challenges because it gives me some guidance as to what to read, and it’s always an interesting challenge finding books to fit into the prompts/categories.

Usually I try to read books for these challenges that I’ve never read before, but there’s sometimes a few that are re-reads. This year there were more re-reads than usual. Some of them I hadn’t read in at least a decade or since I was a young reader, so it was great to re-discover those again.

A few books I really  struggled to get through. When I struggle with a book I usually wonder whether it’s the content of the book that I’m having a hard time getting through, or whether it’s just whatever’s going on in my life  at the moment that might not be meshing cohesively with what I’m reading. The ones I struggled the most with were Unlimited  by Jillian Michaels (a self-help book…not my usual genre), The Zookeeper’s Wife  by Diane Ackerman and When She Came Home  by Drusilla Campbell (an American military story revolving around dealing with PTSD). But I powered through them anyway!

There were so many really great books that I read this year, that it’s difficult to choose a favourite!!! Of course, the first two Harry Potter  books are always on my favourites list; this time I read the illustrated editions (illustrations by Jim Kay) which were a wonderful treat! Other faves would include the three Kate Morton books that I read (The Secret Keeper, The Distant Hours, and The House at Riverton), and The Pillars of the Earth  by Ken Follett.

I haven’t decided yet whether I’ll tackle another Reading Challenge for the remainder of the year; or maybe I’ll just work on reading my way through my “To Be Read” list…although I think I tell myself that every year and it doesn’t happen. All in all, another great year (or half-year) of reading a great selection of books. Thanks to those of you who followed along with what I’ve been reading for this Challenge.

2017 Reading Challenge: Advanced Section Part 2

-A book with an eccentric character: The Rosie Project by Graeme Simision. The main character in this book is quite eccentric, but it’s funny to read about him. This was a great book, very entertaining!!! “Narrator Don Tillman 39, Melbourne genetics prof and Gregory Peck lookalike, sets a 16-page questionnaire The Wife Project to find a non-smoker, non-drinker ideal match. But Rosie and her Father Project supersede. The spontaneous always-late smoker-drinker wants to find her biological father. She resets his clock, throws off his schedule, and turns his life topsy-turvy.” (Goodreads)

-A book that’s more than 800 pages: The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett. This book had 973 pages so well over the 800 minimum for this prompt. This was a really excellent book. So engrossing, I read all 973 pages in less than a week! The story is set in the 1100s and revolves around the building of the cathedral at Kingsbridge Priory. It’s so rich and detailed and full of suspense and adventure, betrayal and love. A must-read for fans of historical fiction.

-A book you got from a used book sale: Life of Pi  by Yann Martel. I bought a copy of this book a few years ago, but never got around to reading it. So, I chose it for my book club selection so that it would force me to actually read it. “Life of Pi is a fantasy adventure novel by Yann Martel published in 2001. The protagonist, Piscine Molitor “Pi” Patel, a Tamil boy from Pondicherry, explores issues of spirituality and practicality from an early age. He survives 227 days after a shipwreck while stranded on a boat in the Pacific Ocean with a Bengal tiger named Richard Parker.” (Goodreads)

-A book that’s been mentioned in another book: Anne of Green Gables  by Lucy Maud Montgomery. This book was mentioned in Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline, a story around 2 orphans (an elderly woman and a teenage girl) and the friendship that they develop. When I saw Anne Of Green Gables mentioned in this book I knew that I would choose it for this category. Anne of Green Gables  is the classic tale of orphan Anne Shirley who gets taken in by the Cuthberts, and her adventures and escapades as she lives with a wild imagination. A wonderful story.

-A book about a difficult topic: When She Came Home by Drusilla Campbell. “Frankie Byrne Tennyson stunned everyone when she decided to enlist in the U.S. Marine Corps. Now-after bravely serving her country in Iraq-she’s finally come home. Home to a husband whose lingering feelings of abandonment make her wonder if their lives can ever be the same. Home to a daughter whose painful encounters with bullies can only be healed by a mother’s love. And home to a father who still can’t accept his daughter’s decision to serve in spite of his own stellar career as a brigadier general. But the most difficult part about coming home lies within Frankie herself. To save everything she holds dear, she must face the toughest battle of her life . . . ” (Goodreads). The difficult topic this book centered around was Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. This book was an okay read, didn’t really hold my interest at all, though.

-A book based on mythology: Motorcycles & Sweetgrass  by Drew Hayden Taylor. Since I’m Canadian, I wanted to find something from our Indigenous/First Nations mythology…instead of choosing from the plethora of Greek and Roman mythologies that are so well-known. Thought I’d try something different and unknown to me. This was a great read, and a new-to-me author. “Otter Lake is a sleepy Anishnawbe community where little happens. Until the day a handsome stranger pulls up astride a 1953 Indian Chief motorcycle – and turns Otter Lake completely upside down. Maggie, the Reserve’s chief, is swept off her feet, but Virgil, her teenage son, is less than enchanted. Suspicious of the stranger’s intentions, he teams up with his uncle Wayne – a master of aboriginal martial arts – to drive the stranger from the Reserve. And it turns out a band of marauding raccoons are willing to lend a hand.” (Goodreads).   “In Ojibway mythology, Nanabush is a mischievous trickster, shapeshifter, and cultural hero. Drew Hayden Taylor uses this figure and his manic spirit to bring a modern twist to ancient native folklore.” (Islands Trust website)

2017 Reading Challenge: Advanced Section Part 1

-A book recommended by an author you love: In Falling Snow  by Mary-Rose MacColl. Recommended by author Kate Morton, who has become a favourite of mine. This one is told by Iris…a nurse in France in the First World War. It’s a story of love, war and secrets as Iris remembers those days as a young nurse and her coming of age. It’s a really great book; I’d highly recommend it!

-A bestseller from 2016: Wenjack  by Joseph Boyden. “An Ojibwe boy runs away from a North Ontario Indian School, not realizing just how far away home is. Along the way he’s followed by Manitous, spirits of the forest who comment on his plight, cajoling, taunting, and ultimately offering him a type of comfort on his difficult journey back to the place he was so brutally removed from. Written by Scotiabank Giller Prize-winning author Joseph Boyden and beautifully illustrated by acclaimed artist Kent Monkman, Wenjack is a powerful and poignant look into the world of a residential school runaway trying to find his way home.” (Goodreads). This is a historical fiction novella, based on Chanie “Charlie” Wenjack. An excellent and compelling read. 

-A book with a family-member term in the title: Not Without My Daughter  by Betty Mahmoody with William Hoffer. “In August 1984, Michigan housewife Betty Mahmoody accompanied her husband to his native Iran for a two-week vacation that turned into a permanent stay. To her horror, she found herself and her four-year-old daughter, Mahtob, virtual prisoners of a man rededicated to his Shiite Moslem faith, in a land where women are near-slaves and Americans despised. Their only hope for escape lay in a dangerous underground that would not take her child.” (Goodreads).

-A book that takes place over a character’s life span:  A Man Called Ove  by Fredrik Backman. This was a great and entertaining book. I’d recommend it to anyone who enjoys stories about grumpy old men! Lol. It takes place over his lifetime in that he reflects back on his past and the decisions he made that shape who he is and how he deals with the world. “A grumpy yet loveable man finds his solitary world turned on its head when a boisterous young family moves in next door. [Ove is] a curmudgeon. He has staunch principles, strict routines, and a short fuse. People call him the bitter neighbor from hell, but must Ove be bitter just because he doesn’t walk around with a smile plastered to his face all the time? Behind the cranky exterior there is a story and a sadness. So when one November morning a chatty young couple with two chatty young daughters move in next door and accidentally flatten Ove’s mailbox, it is the lead-in to a comical and heartwarming tale of unkempt cats, unexpected friendship, and the ancient art of backing up a U-Haul. All of which will change one cranky old man and a local residents’ association to their very foundations.” (Goodreads)

-A book about an immigrant or refugee: Orphan Train  by Christine Baker Kline. This was an excellent book, and it was a topic of which I had never heard anything…yet orphan trains actually happened. The story of one orphan immigrant girl who gets sent on an “Orphan Train” from New York to the mid-west with the idea of hopefully being adopted at the end of the journey. That’s what happens and this is the fictional story of her life and how it turns out.

-A book from a genre/subgenre that you’ve never heard of: Changeless  by Gail Carriger. This book is placed in the “Mannerpunk” genre…definitely a genre of which I’ve never heard (even though I’ve read another book from that genre). This is book #2 in the Parasol Protectorate series, about Alexia Maccon, a soulless being who is married to a werewolf and is a subject of Queen Victoria. Alexia travels to Scotland to investigate strange happenings and has quite the number of adventures along the way!